Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hellerau - Where Art and Tech Dance Together

Yesterday the final presentation day of futureSAX - The Saxon Innovation Conference took place at the Festspielhaus Hellerau, an iconic building in the smallish suburb Hellerau on the edge of the globally known city of Dresden.

The area of what a little bit more than 100 years ago just heath land with scattered woods became an entrepreneurial and dance hotspot shortly after its founding as the first German "garden city" in 1909. The visionary entrepreneur, Karl Schmidt (link to "German History in Books and Images" by @GHIWashington), envisioned not only a new furniture production site but also a suburb where working, education and living would jointly go together in the most natural form (literally embedded into the landscape of that strip of land).

The prosperous business owner and his outstandingly new ideas attracted famous architects of the time to this new "venture" and furthermore pulled in artists like Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a Swiss musical pedagogue, who finally became the initiator of creating the Festspielhaus Dresden to perform rhythmical gymnastics.

So it made more than sense to choose this location to showcase some of the amazing innovations, like startups scaling up and projects in the making, as well as established regional companies that have gone to take exponential technologies to transform there sometimes centuries-old business models. As 100 years earlier not only local and Saxon players, but also attendees from Berlin and other locations found their way to Hellerau. BTW, the location is most conveniently reachable via eMobility as a tram line (No. 8) operated by the local public transport corporation DVB AG has a stop ("Festspielhaus") nearby with a direct connection to downtown Dresden.

Saxony once again showed, that despite the edgy position within Germany, it has houses a high number of passionate and clever minds who are not just talking about shaping the future. They have dared to hand in their ideas, projects and startups putting their future on the "dance floor" where once Gret Palucca (and others) brought modern dance to the public.

To cut the story short, the prize ceremony has been banned on "digital tape" namely Facebook Live by technology passionate members of the SMWA_SN (Saxon State Ministry for Labour, Economics, and Infrastructure). Prior to the prize ceremony, a group of young dancers of the Tanzraum Dresden performed a wonderful that in some way resembled the struggles entre-/intra-/extrapreneurs face while working on their innovative ideas to see the bright light of success. It may take quite some time, not days, not a week, rather years or even decades.

Looking forward to the next edition of futureSAX in 2018 and the path there, rich of shaped serendipity encounters (here a short clip with John Hagel, co-chair of the Deloitte Center for the Edge on shaped serendipity) along the way.




Wrapping up on a day full of surprise encounters, meeting new and old friends once sentence captures what innovation is literally all about:

Innovation is like performing arts, you passionately have to stay with it through training, repetition until the idea becomes a reality. 

In short, the review on yesterday's experience will be captured what was coined #PresencingStatus back in the "early days" of occDD (Open Coffee Club Dresden, an idea we brought back from Boston back in 2009):
  1. Good - perfect location; dense, somewhat crowded place (enabling serendipity encounters); meeting friends from Berlin who are also in the #ExponentialTechnologies space; most inspiring conversations
  2. Tricky - 5 GHz WiFi networks may lead to connection problems (h/t to Hellerau's guest network that worked flawlessly over the whole time); noisy crowd during the pitches 
  3. Learned - Humble Inquiry (a concept Edgar H. Schein, Prof. Emer. of MIT Sloan School of Management with family roots also from Bad Schandau, Saxony as he writes in his autobiography "Becoming American"; "Are you at futureSAX in Hellerau today?") really led to a most surprising and rich conversation with someone who had not been aware of futureSAX 
  4. Action - Doing what we always do, weaving the various threads of information, events, and persons together into a bigger picture of Saxony that is truly more than what can often be read in the media outside Saxony  

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